Sunday, November 30, 2008

Henry Yule's MISSION TO THE COURT OF AVA 1855...

The compound of the British Residency (watercolour by Colesworthy Grant)
I think I am one of the few ex-OUP travellers who has an extensive collection of Oxford In Asia Historical Reprints or OIAHR as we use to call it those days, other than perhaps the personal collection of my late big boss Raymond Earnest Brammah's (REB), M Sockalingam, Edda de Silva (former OUP KL Managing directors), Koh Seng Hwi, Jamaluddin Ishak and the British Museum (hahaha). Henry Yule: A Narrative of the Mission to the Court of Ava 1855 (OIAHR published in 1968) was one of the copies in my possession.
This is what Huge Tinker, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, wrote in his introduction to the reprint in December 1966:
The genesis of the book lies in the Second Ango-Burmese War of 1852, which ended in the British annexation of the province of Pegu. Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India, was instructed by the Secret Committee of the East India Company to require the Burmese King to sign a treaty to formally recognising the annexation. After the war there was a palace revolution, and the unstable Pagan Min was replaced on the throne by his half-brother, Mindon Min, a prince with an enlightened and peace-loving outlook. In his view, the war had been between the British and his predecessor, and, far from accepting fait accompli of the British occupation of Pegu, he expected that, if he demonstrated his goodwill, the lost province would be restored. Against this background of misapprehension, diplomatic overtures commenced. A Burmese official mission was despatched to convey the greetings of Mindon Min to the Governor-General. After considerable delays in Rangoon, while the status of the mission was clarified, the envoys travelled to Calcutta (Kulkota now), being escorted by Arthur Phayre, the newly-appointed Commissioner of Pegu Province. Aftermuch stately manoeuvering, (27 November-28 December 1854) it emerged that the envoys were empowered to offer presents and greeting only. They had no authority even to discuss a treaty, and when at last they asked for the return of Pegu to the King, Dalhousie emphatically rejected their request.
The book is a journal of both Phayre (under-secretary) and Yule (secretary) of the British Civil/Administrative Service at the time. Hugh Tinker went on to say that Yule was dissapointed in his ambitions to scale the administrative heights and turned to scholarship and writing, specialising in medieval travellers in Asia. While Phayre continued in his solitary task of implanting British Administration in Burma until he quit in 1867 to spend a restless, wandering life, after he was unable to conclude a commercial treaty with the Burmese King and finally finding his true end, like Yule, in writing: in his History of Burma (1883)...
I like history, not so much memorization of the dates and events, but more of the histriography. The business and political implications. Business and politics are really interdependent. One affects the other, contrary to many popular belief that it should be separated. The intrigue, the diplomacy, deception et al. Burma was a great nation in those days and so was Sri Lanka or Ceylon it was known in those days. Alot of smart brainy intellectual chappies from Ceylon are here in Malaysia (my fren Tiru is a good example..always proud to be Ceylonese owh well Sinhalese...never wants to be confused with the Indians...hehe). Many became British Nationals. Remember Colombo Plan scholarships? U Thant? former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) was from Burma and was as good, if not better, than Dag Hammerskjold, his predecessor. Ok, enuf of history...hehe. It is relaxing for me..not sure it's the same for you (evil wink). Enjoy the rest of the sunday, folks!....ciao

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tiru, Ceylonese? Always thought he was MALAYSIAN? By the way, the population of Sri Lanka comprises a myriad of peoples such as Singhalese, Tamils, Malays, etc, and this is not Tiru, again.

Khaeruddin Sudharmin said...

Yes, he is, as much as I am Javanese (proud to be one, hehe), and yes we are MALAYSIANS, that's a given...unless u feel otherwise(?) (evil wink). I know that too, the racial composition of Sri Lanka thank you. And may I know who are you? if you are not Tiru, please? before we continue on this debate? I don't normally entertain anonymous commentators. I'd rather deal with the Tamil Tigers than communicated with chappies who has not the balls to even admit that they exist...I mean you! (wink)...hehe

Khaeruddin Sudharmin said...

communicate..

Khaeruddin Sudharmin said...

when i quoted tiru it was a spontaneous gesture in relation to history and nostalgia and of us growing up together in the malaysian spirit of yesteryears. definitely not with any racist undertones...i apologise if it was interpreted in a negative sense...

Anonymous said...

Hehehe, I like the request to "communicate". Good! Sometimes in our frequent world of dinners,conferences, functions,meetings,etc we lose track of reality. Your comments were not interpreted negatively as you seem to be quite cosmopolitan in your thinking. The comment was to jar you into a reaction and it obviously worked. Hehe. Oh, I exist alright, not LIVE maybe, but definitely exist.Remember Descartes, "I think therefore I am"? About the the "balls" part, I will let you know who I am if you dare continue this dialogue with me on your blogposts. I am the oncology "doctor" of the previous post. In good faith. But you actually will deal with the Tamil Tigers.....? Guts man, I daren't!

Khaeruddin Sudharmin said...

hahaha why do i feel like Androcles and the lion? David & Goliath? Well, Trojan Horse would be more like it haha but the mere mention of descartes makes me feel like sophie and her world (wink). Thank you for acknowledging my cosmopolitan outlook. I'd like to think I am (hehe)just that I dread risking being accused 'syioksendiri' hahaha. Yes,I accept the challenge of a continuing dialogue with u Sir! (Madame?)...absolutely...hehehe.

Anonymous said...

Good, kind Sir! Thank you for restoring my faith in you my dear friend!By the way Androcles and the Lion and David and Goliath, have two different morals to their stories - both inspiring but still, different. Trojan Horse? You are too smart for that (..and no winks). Looking forward to your blogs, has been very enjoyable thus far. For the moment call me Anonymously Identifiable, in keeping with the "oxymoronic" part of your blog. Best wishes, Sir.

Khaeruddin Sudharmin said...

Haha...I knw..but those were juz markers to see if u wud respond. M trying to eliminate persons of anonimity like yor gudselves sir! Haha. There r some basic acid tests hahaha. Oxymoronic is my preferred word. Paradoxical wud b too strong n quite uninteresting or as the young people wud say these days, tak happening hahaha.

Anonymous said...

I think "Fashionably Oxymoronic" is a great name. Waiting for your next blog. A.I.

Tiru said...

Boy have you got it wrong. I strongly believe that the indians must be united and be known as malaysians of the indian origin (tamils from Ceylon originated from india) just as i believe that the javanese should be known as malaysians of the javanese origin. Even though we are a minority we are malaysian nevertheless and we deserve the same right as any other malaysian and our voice can be as loud as any other malaysian.Even though this is your blog make sure you get your facts right before you write cos when you write a blog you have responsibilities. This is my belief and I dont intend to comment any more on this and I also dont want to debate unlike your anonymous reader.